Interview with Thomas Medard Fredericksen, COO of One.com
In Europe, one.com is a very big contender in the hosting space. They have some really low cost hosting offerings that can get any personal or business website up and running quickly. We sat down with Thomas Medard Fredericksen, COO of One.com, who told us all about his business and his background in joining one.com from the startup world.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at one.com?
I've been in the company for the past 8 years and am COO with a responsibility of customer service, product management, and web based product development as well as focusing on specific partnerships on the product side.
Where are your offices situated and how many employees work for your company?
We have three offices, one in Dubai with 100 employees, one in Copenhagen with 170 employees, and one in India with 30 employees.
Can you tell us what inspired the founding of your company? What problems were you trying to solve in the marketplace?
We were founded in 2002 with the idea to help small and midsize companies get online with a website and an email address on a personalized domain name. We wanted to remove two barriers: 1) that it wasn't that simple to get online so we wanted to help the users understand how the Internet worked and we wanted to make it simple for them to get started creating a website and setting up a personal e-mail address, and 2) the pricing for similar services at that time was very high so we launched products that were affordable for all.
What markets (geographic/demographic) would you say represent your biggest client base?
Can you describe your company culture both internally and externally? How do you foster teamwork? How do you embrace open source technology? How does the company approach the customers?
In terms of customers and customer service, our approach is that we believe the customers are the reason for why we exist, so basically from the time we were founded, the customer's problems were for us to solve, and it still is. We have a highly dedicated customer service department. We have 120 people out of 300 in total on our staff helping customers everyday. We are heavily focused on this and we will continue to be so. All customer facing products need to be simple to get started with and easy to use.
What should webmasters that visit HostAdvice know about One.com that they may not know about already?
In terms of customer service, in Europe there are a lot of countries and we cater to many of them, always making sure we can provide native speaking customer service to the countries we focus on. We also have a focus on delivering products that are highly optimized for WordPress websites, such as a tool that makes WordPress easy to install in one click. We have customers who are highly technical skilled and like to do things themselves, but we also have many customers who do not necessarily know how to build and maintain a website, so we created several one-click tool to get them online easily.
Another good point to mention, is that we have hosting packages with multiple SQL databases, SSH access and CPU and memory that is upgradeable.
You mention you're an expert in the startup world. What three pieces of advice would you give to a new startup looking to build traction?
- In a world where the importance of Internet is constantly growing, all startups should be very keen on securing a domain name matching their business name - and in many cases that means finding a domain name first, and let the available domain decide your business name.
It is extremely difficult to find an available domain name on .com that is short and easy to remember, so I would recommend also to look into what options the new gTLDs offer. Many really cool names are still to be registered on the many new gTLDs and at this point, with no more than 12 million domains registered on approximately 450 different new gTLDs, only the imagination sets the limits.
- Get your story straight. Meaning that you need to tell a story about you, your product and your company, that attracts peoples attention. Use this story like a thread throughout all your communication.
- Learn the principles of SEO and implement it for your website. Traffic from organic searches in search engines is crucial for getting visitors to your website where you can convert them to paying customers.
How do you suggest a company approach public relations? Any advice you would want to give?
Even though it seems like the blogging trend peaked some years ago, the blog-platform is still an highly effective way of publishing articles of your own, that can attract the attention of journalists.
My advice for all startups and companies with something to tell - create a blog and start typing! Your blog articles will not only be a way of getting journalists to be interested in your company and your product, it is also a great way of creating content that is highly relevant for the search engines and will improve the SEO score of your website.
Use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to create a network - also of journalists - and publish links to your blog-content on these channels on a regular basis.
You've been involved in recruitment. Any advice you can give from mistakes you've made in the past?
The biggest mistake I have made in the past, have been not being fully prepared for welcoming a new colleague.
Recruiting new skilled people to work together with you is difficult - especially if you are a smaller startup.
If you are not 100% ready to get your new colleague started, it will create several issues for you. The new colleague will not feel welcome and that feeling makes it really hard to get started knowing the business and the people you are going to work together with.
You will waste valuable time and the learning-curve there always are before your new colleague will start deliver will be longer and steeper.
You risk having a new colleague that does not get well into the social life at your company and does not perform. These two things are key to keep people wanna stay working with you, because those are the two most valuable points of anyone's work satisfaction.
Would you recommend that a person focus on building out their website or social media presence? Why?
Website first - social media right after or in parallel. My reason for this advice is that you should use your website to build content to link to from your social media platforms.
It's on your website you want traffic and this is where you can convert visitors into customers.
Social Media is one of the biggest channels to organic traffic to your website, and an important factor in building up a good SEO score for your website, but for me it's a gateway to your website where all the cool things happen!
What do you feel about Google's announcement last year on the significant of having HTTPS on web traffic and search visibility?
Security for the users of the Internet is a responsibility that should be taken very seriously by everyone working with infrastructure or content for the Internet. Not having HTTPS on web traffic creates a significant risk for the visitors of your website, so I strongly recommend making sure to have that in place.
Seeing Google vouching for traffic from HTTPS and giving secure sites a ranking boost is really cool in that perspective. Thumbs up!
A lot of people lately are using these one-theme website services like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly, as there's this opinion that people aren't looking for pure hosting or domains. How do you respond to those?
I think the reason for the success of Squarespace, Wix, Weebly. and other similar tools, are the simplicity of the service they offer.
People still want their own domain name, they still want a personalized e-mail address on their own domain name, but first and foremost they want it to be extremely simple to get started building a website and setting up an e-mail address.
So even though a website and e-mail address on a personalized domain name requires hosting, I think it is important that the service providers do not focus that much on the fact that it is actually hosting they provide.
Users do not want to know about hosting - they want to know about all the cool and easy-to-use features they get, and what awesome things they can do with them.
Do you have anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Yeah, did you guys know, that you can get started selling your products online with the One.com Webshop?
It's one of our new addon-features, and I am really exited about all the cool opportunities you get with the webshop-module. It's fully integrated with Stripe payments, and very easy to get started selling online!